Beware of Scam Hotel Room Booking Sites

Scam websites are all too common nowadays. In the past it was primarily scam ecommerce sites which would take people's money and not deliver the goods. More recently it's come to light that even the hotel industry has come under attack and there are a large number of fraudulent hotel sites being setup to take fake hotel bookings.

We all love a bargain but unless you take precautions you may not be saving money but losing money when "buying" or "booking" online.

An article on the CNBC site and another article on LinkedIn highlighted two scams which involved hotel booking sites. Both articles talk about fake sites setup using the logos and pictures from the hotel - without permission - to trick customers into thinking they are on the real hotel's website. The site then takes a deposit or full payment for a room that is never booked. To make matters worse you may also find that any credit card, bank details or personal information you enter on the site maybe sold on, to be used by other scammers.

Web Dandy, a Kent based web design company stated: "Just because a website looks official doesn't mean it is. It's all too easy to be fooled. The golden rule is to check out sites thoroughly before booking or paying for a service AND if prices look too good to be true, they usually are! Although not foolproof you can protect yourself with some of the tips we've provided below."

Some Tips To Help Protect Yourself

It's important to be able to tell if a site is legitimate. So what should you look for?

  • Look for contact details and try them out. Do they list an address, email and telephone number? Send an email and check the response has come from the domain name email account that is in the contact details. Try the telephone number. You should be suspicious if you can only reach an automated telephone system or can never get through to speak to someone.
  • Visit Whois to verify if the information provided on the website matches up with the information on the company's website; such as their country and official contact information etc.
  • Look at the website address in the address bar of your internet browser to verify that the website or links you have clicked do not redirect you to another website address.
  • Check the spelling and grammar on the site.
  • Does the site has a T&C and privacy policy page.
  • If you are entering credit card or sensitive information onto a site check that the website's checkout/payment page has the padlock symbol which shows the site has a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to protect the information you enter.
  • Last but not least, and often a great way to spot a fake -- type the company's name or web address into your search engine and check to see if any results appear especially those on review or "scam alert" sites.

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